S is for Saints: Combines Tradition with Contemporary Appeal

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Nevisians were unhappy with their connection to the numerically dominant Kittitians and agreed to independence only if they could retain the right to secede and have internal self-rule. The lengthy economic decline left the islands in an unpromising position. Initial efforts to establish more productive agricultural and other pursuits involving manual labor were stymied by the strong preference of Kittitians and Nevisians for white-collar work.

The development of tourism in the s and the increasing ability of emigrants to send funds home have led to better economic circumstances on both islands, which maintain excellent public school systems, resulting in a literacy rate in excess of 90 percent, and good public health programs. National Identity. The coat of arms appears to owe as much to colonial influence as its does to indigenous traditions.

The contemporary national identity is complex and strongly affected by emigration and the opportunities afforded by education. Emigration in the s reduced the population. That trend seems likely to continue, as current population projections for the years and indicate a maintenance of the figure of thirty-nine thousand. Current estimates suggest that far more inhabitants live abroad than at home, by a factor of four or five to one.

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Kittitians and Nevisians abroad are employed in a wide range of positions that reflect their education. Nonetheless, they retain strong ties to their homes, visit frequently on holidays, especially on Christmas, and regularly send home money and goods. Family ties are strongly maintained through frequent visits. Many younger islanders look forward to completing their educations abroad and then taking up residence in a foreign country.

The result is a complex identity rooted partly in place and tradition and partly in the wider world and educational accomplishment. Emigration makes the achievement of white-collar work ever more possible. Basseterre, the largest city on the islands, has eighteen thousand people, while Charlestown has an approximate population of 1, Both cities are seats of government and tourism and the major mercantile centers and ports of the islands.

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Both feature a combination of contemporary architecture mixed with colonial structures. Scattered throughout the islands, there are many fine buildings, often the homes of former plantation owners, some of which have been transformed into inns for tourists. People usually live in towns and villages ranging from twenty to a few hundred residents in size. The villages often contain a general store and sometimes a post office and are characterized by groupings of houses that reflect kinship connections.

Most of these village houses are fairly modest wood frame affairs, and the tropical clime obviates the need for complex insulation and weatherproofing. The largest problem faced by homeowners is the hurricanes that appear late in every summer. House design usually includes a porch on which the occupants can observe passers by.

Socializing occurs easily and frequently at home and in public settings. There is an expectation of and pressure for sociability, and adults try to be accessible. Men generally meet on street corners or frequent small bars, rum shops, and pubs where they can socialize.


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Women generally confine their interactions to social visits, shopping, and church, though chance encounters are always welcome. Sociability is a distinguishing characteristic of the islands and often is commented on by visitors. There are good paved road systems totaling seventy-eight miles around each island, though some of the interior roads are either dirt or in poor repair. There are 4, automobiles on the islands, and far more people own cars than possess scooters or mopeds.

The reason for this pattern seems to be status and the appearance of respectability. Food in Daily Life. There are a variety of mixed dishes, including many that betray their off-islands origins, such as spaghetti, but there are also local culinary traditions.

2. The Meaning of Religious Beliefs

In addition to staples such as rice and beans, the islands are known for "goat water," a stew usually made from the neck bones and meat of goats. Accompanying most meals are a range of vegetables, especially squashes and peas, and hot sauces. While fresh fish are available, mutton or goat is the staple meat and is served in a variety of ways ranging from curried to creole style. Fried chicken is also popular, especially for entertaining guests. Beverages range from softdrinks to fruit juices to beer and rum. Of all these purchased drinks, beer is significantly the cheapest, as there is a brewery on Saint Kitts.

Basic Economy. Most coastal families maintain small gardens and a few chickens to round out the menu, but most people living along the more populous coast purchase their needs from general stores, and most of the goods are imported and expensive. Sugar production still accounts for a significant part of the income on Saint Kitts.

Both islands produce a range of agricultural products for export, and Nevis has a small stock of cattle, most of which are exported. The monetary unit is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, which is pegged to the U. The need to import many necessities, including foodstuffs, makes the cost of living high. Both islands have enterprises that assemble electronics goods for export. In addition, there is significant production of beverages, beer, plastics, and ethanol. The biggest element in the current economy is clearly tourism, which accounts for approximate 53 percent of the national revenue.

While locals own and run the great majority of the mercantile enterprises and many popular tourist locales, the largest resorts are owned by off-island concerns, principally American. With the exception of moneyed expatriates from America and Great Britain, the inhabitants do not have a significant class structure based on wealth.

The major sociocultural concern of most islanders is to appear "respectable," meaning that one manages an acceptable appearance in possessions and in one's person and behaves in socially appropriate ways, as defined largely by cultural patterns originating in British colonial society. While poverty is inimical to respectability, wealth is not essential for it. Material possessions are important, but as demonstrations of respectability rather than of wealth.

Education matters greatly; young people are serious about their studies, and good students are praised by adults and respected by their peers. The islands are a constitutional monarchy with a single elected representative Masquerade dancers on Saint Kitts.

The government is headed by the prime minister, and for administrative purposes, the country is divided into fourteen parishes. The most singular aspect of the government is that it is bifurcated. While the head of government is in Basseterre, as a condition of union, Nevis demanded internal self-rule. Thus, that island has its own assembly and its own elected premier. The increasing disenchantment of most Nevisians with their treatment by the central government has led to a movement for independence.

The 62 percent of the population that supported secession fell only 4 percent short of the two-thirds required. Social Problems and Control. The United States and other countries in the Caribbean are concerned that the islands could come under increasing pressure from drug cartels. While there is very little crime against persons or property, in the last ten years there have been increasing problems, especially on Saint Kitts, with drug smugglers who wish to use the islands for transshipment to the United States.

Both Saint Kitts and Nevis maintain small police forces that seldom carry arms. Saint Kitts also maintains a coastal watch program in an effort to impede drug smuggling. If the islands become independent of one another, many observers fear that their size would make them vulnerable to outside pressures for illegal activities.

Generally, gender roles owe far more to the pattern of the colonial British then to that of West Africa, with one exception.

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While the male status has more rights and privileges than the female, especially in the public arena, women have significant rights and, as they approach middle age, may even have authority. Some of the better known and more successful entrepreneurs and political figures are women. During most of the period before independence, the "respectable" pattern was for men to be the breadwinners and women to tend children at home and confine their social activities to the church and the marketplace.

However, many families were matricentric, with the woman and extended kin providing much of the material and affective needs of children.

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With increased education, women have found new ways to realize their potential and gain public respect. A man harvesting sugar cane. Most citizens are descendants of the slave labor population. Marriage is undertaken as both a social responsibility and a sign of adulthood. The reasons given for marriage emphasize love, though parents pressure children, especially females, who are old enough to marry but are not involved in socializing.

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A newly married couple may reside with either set of parents at first but will prefer to live in their own domicile, though usually close to other relatives. With the high percentage of educated citizens living abroad, there are an increasing number of mixed marriages. However, the kinship ties between off-islanders and residents continue to be strong. Child Rearing and Education. Mothers are differentially involved in child care.

europeschool.com.ua/profiles/xylamunyr/petardas-sexo-duro.php Child rearing tends to be mild, with both males and females kept close until boys begin to explore at about school age. Both genders learn appropriate skills and are taught to respect their parents and elders. Education is valued, and nearly all young people complete primary school. Most then attend secondary school system modeled on that of Great Britain, and a number of the better students obtain scholarships to study in the United States, Great Britain, or other Commonwealth countries. Etiquette reflects the concept of respectability in which reciprocity and decorum define both inter-personal relations and social acceptability.

It is based largely on colonial British models and relaxed only for close friends and family members. Some 95 percent of islanders are Protestants, principally Anglican and Methodist, though there are a number of smaller Protestant sects. Religion remains a very important institution in the society and culture.

It is a major vehicle for maintaining community solidarity and providing guidelines to and reinforcing the importance of respectable behavior.

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While virtually all islanders identity themselves as Christians, many older and some younger islanders believe in obeah , a form of witchcraft in which an individual can be supernaturally harmed by another person for reasons ranging from a perceived wrong to simple envy.